Monthly Archives: January 2012

Sutil receives suspended sentence

GERMAN racing driver Adrian Sutil has received an 18-month suspended prison sentence after being found guilty of causing GBH (Grevilous Bodily Harm).  The ex-Force India racer was convicted in a two-day trial in Munich after an incident occured at a Shanghai nightclub which left the chief executive of Genii Capital, Eric Lux with injuries.  Sutil, 29 has also being given a 200,000 euro fine which according to Planet F1, will be donated to charities.  He becomes the first active F1 racing driver to be found guilty of an off-track skirmish since Belgian driver Bertrand Gachot was controversially jailed in the summer of 1991 for spraying CS gas at a London taxi driver.

Adrian Sutil found guilty and set for a spell on the sidelines

The confrontation between Sutil and Lux happened on the evening of Lewis Hamilton’s stunning victory at last April’s Chinese Grand Prix.  Sutil, a close friend of Hamilton’s was celebrating his success when an incident with a champagne glass occured which left Lux needing stitches after sustaining cuts to his head and neck.  Lux’s company own the Lotus Formula One team, formerly known as Renault.  Despite being asked to testify, Hamilton was unable to attend due to commitments with McLaren.  Sutil apologised to Lux in a statement and via a phone call, although it is believed that no face-to-face apology was given by the driver.  On Monday in court, The German was quoting by the Reuters news agency; “I did everything to try to settle this row, I am really sorry, extremely sorry.  I never wanted for this to happen.”

Despite finishing ninth in the drivers championship, including strong sixth place finishes at the Nurburgring and in Brazil, Sutil’s Formula One career looked bleak before court proceedings were set against him.  He lost his Force India drive to Nico Hulkenberg before Christmas and was beaten to the vacant Williams seat recently to Brazilian Bruno Senna.  There has been talk of a third driver role at Ferrari, considering that they have let their young Italian Jules Bianchi out on loan to Force India to compete in Friday sessions in 2012.  However, this sentence might scupper those chances too.

It looks like Adrian Sutil’s Formula One career, which did show signs of solid promise have now reached an ultimate crossroads.

 

 

Advertisements

Kimi is back and raring to go

ON THE twisty, tight Valencia road circuit in Spain on Monday, the sound of a Formula One car roared out of the pits, as one of its most charismatic figures made his official return to the sport.  Known to enjoy a party or two and not the media intrusion from his past, Kimi Raikkonen is back!

How will the 2007 world champion go on his return? (Autoblog)

Testing a 2010 Renault, Kimi’s two day shakedown had been agreed by the teams, so the 2007 world champion could familiarise himself with the racing cockpit again.  During the test, he sat down with BBC Sport and indicated his desire to race again, saying “I want to enjoy racing against people again.”

Following his acriminous departure from Ferrari at the end of 2009, Raikkonen disappeared from the Grand Prix scene, spending two years competing for Citroen in the World Rally Championship.  His results were disappointing and although showing flashes of speed, seemed to end rallies more often in ditches and trees.  A brief stint in NASCAR last summer rekindled Raikkonen’s desire to compete at the highest level and the 32-year old hopes to be “fast straightaway.”

Michael Schumacher’s comeback in 2010 hasn’t proved to be a success and it will depend on how competitive Lotus are to see if Raikkonen’s newly-found motivation continues.  No-one can question his natural speed, nor the excitement he has shown down the years (remember going through Eau Rouge flat through engine smoke in Spa qualifying 2002), the question will remain; will he be able to commit to a project that is more likely to achieve in the longer than shorter term.

However, it is great to see Kimi Raikkonen back in the sport and I’m sure he will remind us of his talent that did take him to a world championship five years ago.  Six world champions on the grid is unique and the Raikkonen return will be one of the most compelling features within the 2012 dynamic.

Caterham launch first for 2012

THE newly named Caterham team have become the first Grand Prix to launch their new car for the 2012 FIA Formula One World championship, which begins in Australia on March 18.

Tony Fernandes’s team has kept the green livery they have used as Team Lotus over the past two seasons.  Pictures appeared of the car on the internet today, although the official launch was due for tomorrow in the F1 Racing magazine.  Fernandes, also the owner of Premiership side Queens Park Rangers, has aimed for the team to score one point in their third season in the sport.  They will also be relocating from Norfolk to Leafield in Oxfordshire, moving into a base which was recently used by Arrows and Super Aguri before their demises from the sport in 2002 & 2008 respectively.

The new Caterham Renault chassis for 2012 (BBC Sport)

The current operation has a best finish of 12th, scored by lead driver Heikki Kovalainen at the 2010 Japanese Grand Prix. At times last season, the Lotus/Caterham outfit troubled the midfield runners, with Kovalainen often giving the Sauber and Williams teams some severe headaches in races.  At the moment, the 30-year old Finn will still be partnered by veteran Jarno Trulli.  However, Russian Vitaly Petrov is still believed to be the favourite for the drive at Caterham, despite fresh rumours linking the ex-Renault reject with the Pirelli test driver role.  As announced yesterday, Belgian Jerome d’Ambrosio, who raced for Virgin Racing in 2011, will become the team’s reserve and third driver, replacing Karun Chandok.  Former Renault and Toyota designer Mike Gascoyne will stay on as technical director.

It will be interesting to see how Caterham go in 2012 in a season that is likely to reveal just how likely the ‘newer’ teams will go in the sport’s short-term future.  After two seasons at the back, it is time for these teams to deliver now, no more excuses can be required.

The Senna name is rekindled at Williams

AFTER months of speculation, Bruno Senna has been given the nod to drive for the Williams Formula One team in 2012.  The 28-year old Brazilian will replace his compatriot Rubens Barrichello and partner fellow South American Pastor Maldonado in the team, that only mustered five points in a dismal 2011 season.

It means that Senna will be driving a Williams Renault car again, the exact combination that his legendary Uncle, Ayrton drove in their fatal partnership at the beginning of the 1994 season.  In an interview with BBC Sport, Bruno’s delight was clear to see and the reaction seemed to be positive; “I feel very privileged Williams has selected me as one of their race drivers.  The team has a great heritage and I hope I can help write a good chapter in their history.”

A new home for a delighted Bruno Senna in 2012

Senna made his Grand Prix debut for the underfunded Hispania team at the 2010 Bahrain Grand Prix.  Despite struggling in his debut season, Renault saw enough potential to hire him as a third driver last season.  Nick Heidfeld’s failure to produce consistent results eventually saw him dumped for Senna, who assumed the Renault drive at last year’s Belgian Grand Prix.  He qualified a sensational seventh at Spa, scored two points at Monza and gave Vitaly Petrov something to think about in a car that seemed to be going backwards with alarming rate by the season’s end.  This news means that Barrichello’s extraordinary 19-year Formula One career appears to be over.  Ever the gentleman, Barrichello congratulated his countryman on replacing him via Twitter.

Sir Frank Williams insisted that Senna will get time to establish himself at his new team, as the team hope to improve signficiantly on a diabolical 2011 campaign which ultimately led to the departures of Barrichello, technical director Sam Michael and director of engineering Patrick Head.  Williams told the team’s website; “The circumstances of Bruno’s two seasons in Formula 1 have not given him an ideal opportunity to deliver consistently so it was essential that we spent as much time with him as possible to understand and evaluate him as a driver.  We have done this both on track and in our simulator and he has proven quick, technically insightful and above all capable of learning and applying his learning quickly and consistently. Now we are looking forward to seeing that talent in our race car.”

There is now only one drive left on the 2012 grid, with a driver bringing lots of cash expected to join Pedro de la Rosa at Hispania.  Narain Karthikeyan, who drove nine races last season is a strong candidate.  This is despite Vitantonio Liuzzi having a contract for 2012.  So does fellow Italian Jarno Trulli, although Petrov is believed to have a serious chance of replacing the veteran at the newly named Caterham team.

Bruno Senna now has to prove that Williams big gamble pays off.  However, if he does, it will add another glorious chapter to the Senna name in Formula One.

Another setback for Kubica

POLISH starlet Robert Kubica has suffered another setback in his bid to return to Formula One.  The 2008 Canadian Grand Prix winner slipped on some ice last Wednesday in Italy, reopening a leg fracture sustained in a horrific rally accident last February.

Robert Kubica's targets have been moved back again after another injury

Kubica, who has driven for BMW Sauber and Renault in his F1 career, required another operation at the weekend to the damaged right tibia.  He has since left hospital and returned home to Monaco.  Kubica sustained multiple fractures to his arms and legs when he crashed his Skoda Fabia in a rally event in Andorra last year.  The injuries required several operations last year and he had to frustratingly watch the 2011 season on the sidelines.  His prospects for 2012 didn’t look good already, after a falling out with Renault boss Eric Bouiller led to him being replaced by GP2 champion Romain Grosjean and former F1 champion Kimi Raikkonen.  Speculation has been rife that he has a pre-contract in place with Ferrari for the 2013 season, although this has been strongly denied by Maranello boss Stefano Domenicalli.

Despite their relationship ending on bad terms, Bouiller sent his best wishes to Kubica earlier this week.  He said;

“Robert has shown fantastic courage and determination in his rehabilitation following the accident last year, and it is sad to hear that he has suffered this setback, on behalf of everyone at Lotus Renault GP, I would like to wish Robert a quick recovery.”

Whether will we see Robert Kubica in a racing car remains to be seen, but he is a fighter and I hope he makes a swift recovery from this latest setback.

BBC fill the missing links

THE BBC confirmed the final pieces of their broadcasting line-up for the 2012 Formula One season yesterday.

The BBC have revealed their broadcasting team for 2012

As already revealed, the popular Jake Humphrey will stay on in his anchoring duties, which he has done since the corporation regained F1 rights in 2009.  Eddie Jordan and David Coulthard will remain in their analyst roles, whilst Coulthard will spend a second season in the commentary box.

The Scot will be partnered by the respected commentator, Ben Edwards.  Edwards, who has previously commentated on Formula One for Eurosport in 1995-1996 and the defunct F1 Digital+ channel in 2002 will replace Martin Brundle, who moved to Sky Sports in November.  Edwards has also commentated on A1GP for Sky and for the past decade, the British Touring Car championship on ITV.

Lee McKenzie will remain in her pitlane role, and will be joined by Gary Anderson, who comes onto the team as a technical analyst.  Anderson has worked in the pitlane with Jordan and Stewart Grand Prix as technical director in the 1990s and designed the car that took Johnny Herbert to victory in the crazy 1999 European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring.  He has done plenty of media work for Speed TV in the USA and for Autosport racing magazine.

The former ITV F1 commentator James Allen will lead BBC Radio 5 Live’s coverage.  Allen will commentate on all 20 races and provide news content for the radio station.  Already no co-commentator was announced, Maurice Hamilton from the Observer or former Hispania driver Karun Chandok will be likely regulars in the commentary box.  Ex-Moto GP ancor Jennie Gow takes over pitlane duties for 5 Live.  They replace David Croft, Anthony Davidson and Natalie Pinkham, who all moved to Sky’s presenting team for 2012.

This season will see all 20 races being exclusively covered live by Sky Sports, as well as all practice and qualifying sessions.  It will be avaliable to all Sky subscribers through their dedicated channel, Sky Sports F1, due for launch in March.  As of present, there is no news of whether the channel will be avaliable through Virgin Media or BT Vision.  Simon Lazenby will present their coverage from the circuit, with Georgie Thompson, Ted Kravitz and Steve Rider presenting regular programmes with the latest news and lengthy interviews with classics from the past.  Croft and Brundle will commentate on the races for Sky, with Davidson doing practice sessions to allow Brundle to focus on recording detailed technical pieces.

The BBC will broadcast ten live races, including the Monaco, British and Belgian Grand Prix’s.  They will broadcast two hour re-runs of non-European races and 90 minute highlight packages at a 5.30pm BBC One slot for European races they won’t be showing live, such as the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.  The popular F1 Forum will still be presented at all races, both live or recorded, as Humphrey confirmed on Twitter yesterday.

Although there has been plenty of controversy over the new TV deal, a new broadcasting era for Formula One will begin soon.

BBC F1 LIVE RACES THIS SEASON: China, Spain, Monaco, Europe (Valencia), Great Britain, Belgium, Singapore, Korea, Abu Dhabi & Brazil

BBC F1 DETAILED HIGHLIGHTS THIS SEASON: Australia, Malaysia, Bahrain, Canada, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, India, USA

BBC F1 TEAM FOR 2012

Presenter: Jake Humphrey

Pundits: Eddie Jordan & David Coulthard

Commentators: Ben Edwards & David Coulthard

Pitlane Reporter: Lee McKenzie

Technical Analyst: Gary Anderson

SKY SPORTS F1 TEAM FOR 2012

Presenter: Simon Lazenby

The Sky Sports broadcasting team for 2012

Commentators: David Croft, Anthony Davidson & Martin Brundle

Pitlane Reporters: Ted Kravitz & Natalie Pinkham

Technical Analyst: Martin Brundle

Magazine Presenters: Georgie Thompson & Ted Kravitz

Classic Interviews Presenter: Steve Rider

Sutil faces trial for nightclub assault

FORCE India reject Adrian Sutil is fighting for his fledgling Formula One career tonight, after it was confirmed that he will face trial at the end of the month for a nightclub assault.

The 28-year old German, who was among the favourites to land the vacant seat at Williams for the 2012 season, could end up with a one-year suspended prison sentence should he be found guilty at the trial in Germany.

Adrian Sutil faces trial for an incident that occured in April 2011

The incident happened in a nightclub after last year’s Chinese Grand Prix, where Sutil and his friends had been celebrating Lewis Hamilton’s stunning victory in Shanghai.  Although there has been differing accounts of what happened, it is alleged that Sutil had a confrontation with the co-owner of the Lotus Renault team, Eric Lux.  The altercation left Lux needing hospital treatment, requiring 24 stitches.  From the outset of this news breaking last season, Lux proceeded to press criminal charges against Sutil.  The driver apologised in the summer of last year, but court proceedings have still be pressed on.

Now, though, he has been charged with causing grevilous bodily harm with a trial date set for 30-31 January.  The verdict will likely be aimed at CCTV footage taken from the nightclub on the night, with famous faces such as Hamilton, a close friend of Sutil’s, possibly being called to give evidence.

Whatever the outcome, Adrian Sutil’s five year Formula One career tonight is hanging on real rocky ground.